With Thanks

As a child, I was very fortunate to have an older brother and sister willing to take me WAY across town to the public library. (Thanks, Jim Holmes and Maureen Kidd!) The wonderful librarians steered me first to the children’s section and, after I’d gone through those shelves, allowed me to read whatever I wanted as long as I showed them first. (How lucky was I???) I raced through biographies and travel guides and read about places I’d never heard of that inspired a love of geography and the library’s Map Room. I quickly fell in love with the glossy, sophisticated publications like Harper’s and the New Yorker as well as newspapers from around the world in languages I didn’t understand. (Thanks to the patient librarians who introduced me to the wonders of the world, and who unknowingly set me on a journey to travel the globe!)

Many of the stories I read referred to New York City as simply “the City.” When I was in the first grade, I had to make up a story about people in that particular city so, drawing upon what I’d read at the library, I referred to NYC as “the City” paying careful attention to capitalization, of course.

My teacher Miss Hess was convinced I stole the story “because first graders cannot possibly know things like that” and scored it an F. I cried all the way home. My mother, at a complete loss over how to deal with an hysterical 6-year-old, told me “just wait until your father comes home.” (Not your usual use of that phrase.)

My father went straight to the school with me in tow. Even though I had to wait on the steps outside the classroom, I clearly heard every word my father said in my defense. From that firestorm, a writer was born.

You should know our wonderful father made sure Santa put a dictionary under the Christmas tree for us and gave us a magnetic alphabet board so we could play with words. Despite his fiercely mathematical mind (genes I sadly did not inherit) our father was a literary aficionado who loved  to complete the New York Times crossword in ink. He was seriously good at the show Jeopardy, too.  He clearly understood this daughter of his was DIFFERENT (an understatement if you ask anyone who knew me then or now!) and knew I was prone to integrate what I read into whatever I was doing.  He’d read the story and it made perfect sense to him. Of course, my Dad loved to read the Horatio Hornblower series and would discuss those books and the Napoleon Wars with his kids, as long as we didn’t interrupt his reading time while eating supper after working late. (And yeah, I paid attention. Any wonder I followed his footsteps and joined the military?)

From my earliest days, my father was a champion of my writing. I carry his words in my heart and remember them often.

Thanks, Dad, for the gift of literature, and words, and the world beyond my doorstep.


A Joyful Experience

One of my favorite places to be is in a library! Big or small, grand or humble, I see libraries as the heart of a community, a place where possibilities are endless and the world awaits. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the libraries in the Carroll and Madison Library System. After I was invited to participate in the Books in Bloom Literary Festival, the  St. Paul (AR) Public Library’s book club chose my book, Deadly Ties, for their July reading and invited me to visit. What an honor!

Who would expect that a tiny community tucked away in the Ozark Mountains, with a population of just 113 people, would have a vibrant library of its own? The Library Director, Bonnie Rodgers, has created a warm, welcoming place for readers of all ages. The interior space has been very cleverly used, and a covered porch invites patrons of all ages to come enjoy this jewel of a library. I had a delightful time browsing the shelves and discovering new books about the Ozark region. Lots of informative posters, handouts, and–a surprise–a lovely collection of photographs of barns and Ozark landscapes.

And the book club? A wonderful group! Great questions, engaging conversation, and a shared love of reading–who could ask for more? They were a marvelous audience and I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

The St. Paul Public Library is located at 145 Fifth Street in St. Paul, AR 72760. You can reach them by phone (479-677-2907), email (library72760@gmail.com), or visit them on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/kb7rj3j). To learn more about area, visit the Madison County Genealogical & Historical Society Website.